Lancers put together solid 32-minute effort in win

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Loyalsock’s Connor Watkins (4) splits the Montoursville defense to shoot during the second quarter at Loyalsock on Tuesday evening.

Four Loyalsock starters scored during the game’s opening nine minutes Tuesday against rival Montoursville. So did two reserves. Together, they scored inside, they drained 3-pointers and they effectively dissected whatever defense Montoursville featured.

The Lancers played outstanding at various times throughout their first 10 games. But last night, for the first time, they put everything together for all 32 minutes. Loyalsock hit the gas early and never let up, delivering a dominant performance and defeating the visiting Warriors, 82-49. Four starters scored in double figures as did reserve Aiden Gair. Whenever one player cooled off, another seemingly heated up.

The season is only half complete, but Loyalsock (9-2, 4-0 HAC-II) showed why it could be so dangerous, doing so against a strong team that pushed it hard twice last season. If this was a start, Loyalsock could be poised for quite a finish.

“We’ve had points in games where we’ve had big runs and played great in moments, but this is the best overall game we’ve had,” Loyalsock point guard Anthony Pastore said. “I feel like every game we’re getting plays down better, we’re moving better and we’re running up the court better on fastbreaks. We’re just making ourselves a more complete team and playing a full game the way we need to.”

Pastore set an early tone, scoring Loyalsock’s first five points and the Lancers never trailed following his early burst. Pastore finished with 16 points, five assists, three rebounds and made 6 of 7 shots. Pastore then handed the baton off to Gerald Ross (14 points, 6 rebounds) who had seven first-quarter points. Then it was Mitch Klingerman’s turn and he scored nine first-half points. Then Gair and Collin Graver hit 3-pointers … well, one gets the point.

Loyalsock never hit a dry spell and hit 6 of 9 first-half 3-pointers. When Loyalsock went inside, Connor Watkins feasted and scored 10 of his 14 points during a game-breaking third quarter. The Lancers never made less than half their shots in a quarter, never scored fewer than 19 points in a quarter and closed the third on a 15-4 run to build a 22-point lead that was never threatened.

“We knew it was important to come out shooting well and that happened,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “It’s a work in progress and some games we make good strides and other games we take a step back, but they’re competitive and they get after it.”

“They have so many weapons,” Montoursville coach Mike Mussina said. “They’re strong rebounding, they pass the ball well, they cut well. They just play the game really well.

It was not like Montoursville (4-3, 1-2) played a bad game either. The Warriors hit 12 of 22 first-half shots and efficiently executed well during those opening 16 minutes. It was all about Loyalsock playing so well. Even with Montoursville effectively moving the ball and working for quality shots throughout that first half, Loyalsock still led 43-29 at halftime. Montoursville had cut a 12-point deficit to 28-23 but Pastore scored five straight and ignited a 12-0 run.

That really was how the game went. Montoursville must have felt like Sisyphus at times. Every time it made a run at attacking that deficit, a boulder of a Loyalsock run followed and knocked it back down. Any hope of making a big fourth-quarter comeback was wiped away when Loyalsock opened with an 8-0 run and took a 69-41 lead.

“This is the most complete game we’ve had,” Pastore said. “We lost our two games two weeks ago and that helped us bounce back. It’s going to help us in the future too, those two losses.”

That is exactly the approach Montoursville is taking. Any loss stings, especially coming against one’s top rival but the only thing Montoursville can do now is build from it and become better. The Warriors opened the season 3-0, have a nice mix of size and shooting and play well together. John McCarthy scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds while Luke Warnecke and Owen Kiess each had five assists. Austin Loe made 5 of 7 shots and delivered 11 points off the bench.

Montoursville will have another shot at Loyalsock when they play again at Montoursville later this season. That gives the Warriors a lot of time to improve and make Round II look a lot different.

“This is one of those games where you get whipped like that, you go watch it again and beat yourself up over the mistakes you made, but you have to learn from it,” Mussina said. “We’re not going to be a better basketball team if we don’t take this and go learn from it and take something away from getting whipped by 33. That’s what we have to take from this. It’s a huge learning tool.”

Loyalsock’s reserves are learning their roles and embracing them. The Lancers experienced no drop-off when they went to the bench last night. Collin Graver hit a key 3-pointer as the Lancers started building their lead in the first quarter and Gair hit three 3-pointers. Brandon Bauman had five points and two assists and Bam Brima provided super defense. Brima was especially strong during the game-breaking third-quarter run, grabbing three rebounds, making two steals, blocking a shot and scoring inside during a quick 90-second burst.

“If somebody is not playing well or having an off night or are tired and need a break we have the people that can come off the bench and make the plays we need them to make,” Pastore said. “That is big for us and helps a lot.”

Montoursville (49)

John McCarthy 3 4-4 12, Owen Kiess 2 0-0 4, Austin Loe 5 1-1 11, Luke Warnecke 3 0-0 7, Tyler Reidy 2 1-2 5, Dylan Bower 2 0-0 4, Hunter Shearer 0 0-0 0, Colin Lachemyer 0 0-0 0, Jason Good 2 2-2 6. Totals 18 8-9 49.

Loyalsock (82)

Gerald Ross 6 0-0 14, Anthony Pastore 6 3-3 16, Connor Watkins 6 2-2 14, Mitch Klingerman 6 0-0 13, Hunter Webb 0 2-2 2, Bam Brima 1 0-2 2, Aiden Gair 3 2-2 11, Collin Graver 2 0-0 5, Brandon Bauman 0 5-6 5, Ryan Sullivan 0 0-0 0. Totals 30 14-17 82.

Montoursville 14 15 12 8–49

Loyalsock 23 20 20 19–82

3-point goals: Montoursville 2 (McCarthy 2); Loyalsock 8 (Gair 3, Ross 2, Pastore 1, Klingerman 1, Graver 1).

Records: Loyalsock (9-2, 4-0 HAC-II), Montoursville (4-3, 1-2).

JV score: Montoursville, 56-48.